Q&A With Auburn Lineman Marcus McNeill

The big offensive tackles discusses a variety of subjects.

The following is a question and answer feature with starting offensive left tackle Marcus McNeill. The junior broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and is coming off a strong performance in Auburn's SEC opener at Mississippi State. Do you feel like you played a better game against Mississippi State than you did against Louisiana-Monroe?

"Everybody (on the offensive line) had a real good game against Mississippi State. We weren't very up for the Louisiana-Monroe game. We knew they were a smaller team so we kind of took that for granted and we shouldn't have. Mississippi State looked real good against Tulane so we knew we had to get up for that game. An SEC game on the road--they were over there with the cowbells so we were kind of pumped for that game."

How did Coach Nall (offensive line coach Hugh Nall) react to the line's performance against Monroe?

"Coach Nall was upset, but not pissed off upset--more like disappointed in us. He's putting a challenge on us to make sure we step up to the plate. We weren't physical enough (against UL-Monroe) and he wants to see a physical offensive line. He thought we were physical because of our spring and summer workouts and all of the practices so we really wanted to prove to him that we still have it. We came out with that in mind and that is why we really came after Mississippi State."

How many cockroaches and pancakes (domination blocks) did the offensive line have against Mississippi State?

"I think we had 20 cockroach blocks and the goal was 25. I forgot how many pancakes. I think we had 11, so that's pretty good."

Do you feel that the ones are coming together as a unit?

"It's just an incredible vibe we have between the ones, and even the twos. When we're in, the twos are cheering us on. When the twos are in, in practice, we're cheering them on making sure we have a good practice all the way through."

Marcus McNeill graded well last week in Auburn's 43-14 over Mississippi State.

How does it make you feel when Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown both have a big game like they did against Mississippi State?

"The wonderful runs that Carnell and Ronnie B. had-- Carnell got SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Troy Reddick got SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week because Carnell and Ronnie had that great game. He wouldn't have gotten Offensive Lineman of the Week if Carnell would have had 20 yards and Ronnie would have had five. That really boosts up our want-to. That boosts up our morale to want to do better."

Do you feel that Troy's award is kind of an award for the entire offensive line?

"If the offensive line would have done bad (as a whole) that game, of course they wouldn't have looked at Troy. He might have had an outstanding game, but they would have seen (the rest of) us giving up sacks and not running the ball well. They wouldn't have looked at the Auburn offensive line for a player of the week so they did look at Auburn because we had the two wonderful backs have wonderful games.

"When Troy got the award, it's almost like we all got the award so we were real proud. I congratulated Troy and told him I was proud of him because he's a real close friend and we want to see that happen to all of us all the time."

Do you and Troy have any friendly competition to see who grades higher or gets more cockroaches?

"We always try to get the most pancakes and cockroaches during the season, but most of our competition comes from Halo and John Madden on X-Box. I'm constantly whooping him everyday. That's something I can't help. Coach Nall's technique can't really help him in video games, but we're going to try to get him better."

How do you feel blocking for two good backs like Carnell and Ronnie?

"It's always good to have backs like Carnell and Ronnie to make plays. Coach Borges (offensive coordinator Al Borges) always talks about, ‘We know we're going to make big-time plays because we have big-time players.' We just have to make sure we make the routine plays all the time. To know that Carnell and Ronnie B. are back there, it's always a plus because you know that you always have that chance of busting one wide open.

"Sometimes I catch myself and I sit there and I'll be blocking and they'll run past me. And I'll end up stopping and looking at them because they're putting on so many moves on everybody else. Then I've got to get back to blocking again. It's always fun looking at Carnell run."

How satisfying is it being 2-0 rather than 0-2 like last year?

"It's very satisfying, but we're not really looking for any satisfaction (right now). We're not going to be satisfied until we get to the end of the year and we've had the best season that we could possibly have. Bumps in the road may appear, but we're still trying to have the best season possible. Even though we've started off 2-0, the last two teams that we played--Mississippi State really haven't proven themselves last year or the year before, but (Mississippi State) looked good against Tulane. And Louisiana-Monroe really hasn't beaten anybody. You can't get too behind yourself. We've got LSU coming in, the No. 3 team in the nation and defending national champions. These are the games we live for right here. These are the games we have to show up for like we did against Mississippi State."

How is your back feeling?

"That back is doing wonderful. It's a big burden off my shoulders. A lot of the time I'd go home and ask, ‘Why me? Why do I have to have a back injury?' But I prayed a lot about it and my family prayed a lot about it. I'm just feeling tremendous this year. Hopefully, it'll stay up through the whole season."

How big are you right now?

"I'm about 6-8, 335...between 330 and 335 depending on the day."

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